NRF Foundation Gala raises over $3.2 million to shape future talent in retail

NEW YORK – The fifth annual NRF Foundation Gala took place Sunday at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel in New York City, featuring an inspiring awards program and formal dinner that included both silent and live auctions. The star-studded event raised more than $3.2 million to support the Foundation’s programs, including educational initiatives, student scholarships and RISE Up, a powerful, industry-backed credentialing program.

“We are so fortunate to have retailers and partners who are willing to step up and support our industry and initiatives,” NRF Foundation President Ellen Davis said. “These company leaders and individuals believe deeply in the future of retail and share our view that retail is the industry that powers America’s workforce. We are determined to put these funds to good use by continuing to expand, promote and execute the programs and initiatives that empower retail’s workforce.”

The Gala was attended by more than 1,000 retail CEOs and senior executives, industry insiders, celebrities and students who came together to support the future of retail talent and to celebrate The List of People Shaping Retail's Future. In addition, American rapper and record producer Calvin “Snoop Dogg” Broadus Jr. presented NRF’s “The Visionary” award to Chip Bergh, Levi Strauss & Co. president and CEO, a recognition for an inspiring leader with a record of transforming the retail industry for the better.

At the Gala, the NRF Foundation also announced the recipients of its Student Challenge and Next Generation scholarships. Kelsey White, a senior at LIM College, was the top recipient of the 2019 Next Generation Scholarship. White, one of five finalists, was awarded a $25,000 scholarship. In addition, the NRF Foundation named Alin Intravisit, Angela Flegert, Caroline McCormack, Lara Voronkov from Fashion Institute of Technology as the top team in the Student Challenge competition; each was awarded a $5,000 scholarship.

In addition to members of the National Retail Federation’s Board of Directors and the NRF Foundation’s Board of Directors, other notable guests included Keenan Thompson from Saturday Night Live, philanthropist Nicky Hilton, actor Matthew Morrison from the hit series “Glee,” and Today show celebrity and fashion correspondent Liliana Vasquez.

The Gala capped off the first day of NRF 2019: Retail’s Big Show, welcoming over 37,000 retailers and their business partners from around the world at the Javits Center in New York City, January 13-15, 2019.

About NRF

The National Retail Federation is the world’s largest retail trade association. Based in Washington, D.C., NRF represents discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs — 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy.

About the NRF Foundation

The NRF Foundation shapes retail’s future by building awareness of the industry through statistics and stories; developing talent through education, experiences and scholarships; and fostering career growth among people who work in retail. The NRF Foundation is the 501(c)(3) philanthropic arm of the National Retail Federation and is funded in part by generous donations from retail industry supporters.